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(38:01; Great Wide Nothing)
TRACK LIST: 1. Lethal Neon 9:27 2. Monument 8:23 3. Evening 2:47 4. The View From Olympus 17:24 LINEUP: Daniel Graham - bass, vocals, guitars Dylan Porper - keyboards Jeff Matthews - drums
Prolusion. US threesome GREAT WIDE NOTHING is a fairly recent formation, the band tracing it's roots back to 2017 and then finding their current shape and name in the summer of 2018. So far revolving around the creative skills of Daniel Graham, the band released their debut album "View From Olympus" in the spring of 2019.
Analysis. Great Wide Nothing is a band that know, love and probably treasure highly the old school line of bands of progressive rock legacy. They do not have a problem citing several of the giants of the genre as sources of possible inspiration, and you don't have to listen for too many minutes before deciding that yes, this is a progressive rock band indeed. No question about that at all. These guys are fond of the keyboards driven variety of the genre too, and the keyboards kind of dominate this production through and through, with a brief vocals and acoustic guitar intermission as the sole exception. They favor keyboards with a vintage overall sound and mood as well, with the good old organ given arguably most of a limelight presence. What sounds like a Mellotron is used here and there as well, and in a couple of places a subtle presence that may or may not be a harpsichord appears as well. In general, vintage sounding keyboards are given a lot of room and space throughout. The guitars are mainly a backing instrument, with the acoustic guitar actually being a more noticeable presence than the electric guitar, the latter mainly adding a harder edge to the arrangements as well as providing the occasional atmospheric solo run. The bass tends to be booming and a bit more prominent, cue references to historic bass players known for just that. The compositions themselves are perhaps a bit more atmospheric laden in shape and form though, with references going just as much to classic era neo progressive rock as the giants of the 1970's. The vintage era, symphonic progressive rock as explored through a more atmospheric laden filter perhaps, with the audacity of the former and the more accessible melodies of the latter. With, possibly, a few bits and pieces that has a bit of a Uriah Purple character to them as well. There's a lot to enjoy here, especially if you know and love your retro-oriented progressive rock. That being said, there are a couple of elements that are a bit detrimental throughout as well. One of this is probably more of a subjective case for me, which are the lead vocals. The combination of a talk-like mode of delivery and vibrato is one I'd describe as something of an acquired taste at best. It is a theatrical and subtly dramatic choice of lead vocals, so those who tend to enjoy vocalists described in this manner won't have much of a problem with this aspect of the album experience. But for those who prefer a more controlled vocal presence, this detail will be regarded as a negative. My second gripe is that the mix and production isn't quite at the level I expect from a band operating today. There is a vintage vibe going on here, but especially in the busier, layered parts of the compositions my impression is that something just isn't working right. Some sounds appears to slightly break others, the keyboards strikes me as sounding slightly tinnier and thinner at times, and the experience is ever so slightly warped in a subtle manner. Nothing major I can pinpoint directly, other than giving me a bit more of a demo tape association than a modern day mixed and produced album experience.
Conclusion. Those who know, love and treasure keyboards dominated progressive rock bands that opts for the use of vintage sounding instruments to explore their very own brand of retro-oriented progressive rock should find a lot to enjoy on this debut album. In a symphonic progressive rock meets neo-progressive rock kind of manner, with the dramatic flair of the former and the atmospheric laden presence of the latter. The choice of lead vocal style as well as the quality of the overall mix and production will probably limit the overall reach of this album a bit though, so those who know they are sensitive to any of those issues should have a closer listen prior to grabbing this one to add to their music collection.
Progmessor: October 2nd 2019
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